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ESPN-Can Ballmer lure LeBron to LA?

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Clips/Roxfan, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. Clips/Roxfan

    Clips/Roxfan Member

    Jun 30, 2006
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    Don't be surprised if Clippers' new owner chases James -- here's how

    By Larry Coon | ESPN Insider


    Could Chris Paul and LeBron James possibly play together next year in LA?

    The NBA Finals haven't even started yet, but it's not too early to consider the future of one of its principle participants. LeBron James' pending free agency is hard to overlook. From the moment James formed the Big Three in Miami, potential suitors had July 2014 marked on their calendars. In February, ESPN.com reporters Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne explained that we shouldn't necessarily assume James will re-up with Miami, no matter what happens this postseason. They also argued that if he leaves the Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers are a logical destination.

    A lot has happened since February.

    When the Donald Sterling scandal broke, James was one of the first and most prominent players to step up and voice his sentiments. "We're fighting to get an owner out of our league who shouldn't be a part of our league," he said. "No matter how long it takes, no matter how much money it costs, we need to get him out of there -- and whoever is associated with him doesn't belong in our league."

    Possibly at least partially due to the players' strong, unified reaction, NBA commissioner Adam Silver levied the harshest penalty he could, and the league started down the path to remove Sterling from ownership -- with the path leading to Steve Ballmer's recent agreement to purchase the Clippers for $2 billion.

    Obviously, James' joining the Clippers would have been out of the question with Sterling still there, but with Sterling now almost certainly gone, might James again consider the Clippers a possibility? And could his solidarity with friend and union president Chris Paul, the Clippers' leader, manifest itself in free agency?

    Ballmer, fresh off his $2 billion investment, will surely take big steps to make the Clippers a better team on the court. He will improve the scouting and analytics, and likely will allow the team to spend well above the luxury-tax threshold. But ultimately, it all comes down to acquiring the right players.

    It makes sense that Ballmer will shoot for the stars when it comes to acquiring personnel. What better target than LeBron? The question is whether Ballmer truly has a chance.

    Would LeBron ever leave Miami?

    A betting man still would have to put his money on James remaining with the Heat at least through next season. There are a lot of reasons to think he will stay in Miami. The Heat have won back-to-back titles and could complete the three-peat this month. He's got the real Big Three in Heat president Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and a great market.

    On the other hand, the Heat's near dynasty might be closing soon. Dwyane Wade's skills are in decline, and his injuries are starting to mount. Ray Allen and Shane Battier are just about done, with Battier almost certain to retire at the end of this postseason. Chris Bosh might decide that being No. 1 somewhere else is preferable to being No. 3 in Miami, despite his recent comments to the contrary.

    And the rest of the league is catching up. If the Heat had a margin of error before -- some cushion between themselves and the rest of the league -- it's now gone. If James' focus is on the future, Miami might not be the best place to be.

    If the premier player of this decade sets his mind on joining a particular team, chances are he will be able to find a way to get there. "If LeBron decides to look at other options, it won't just be teams with cap space," a source close to James told Windhorst and Shelburne. "He has 30 options if he wants them."

    Of course, he doesn't have to make up his mind this summer -- his contract runs for two more seasons, with an opt-out clause this summer. The team could decide to make another run next season and re-evaluate in 2015, or even play two more seasons together and make decisions in 2016.

    But if James sizes up the league, sees the writing on the wall, and determines that it's better to move sooner than later, then he could make a change this summer. He's not going to leave Miami for a worse situation or for a rebuilding team that's a couple of years away from title contention. If he changes teams, it will be to win right away.

    Enter the Clippers.

    How would the Clippers fit in LeBron?

    The team received just a courtesy interview during James' 2010 free agency, but a lot has changed since then. With Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and a good supporting cast featuring J.J. Redick and sixth man Jamal Crawford, the Clippers are already competing in the West. Doc Rivers is at the helm, both on the sidelines and with player personnel. James and Paul are close friends, and have always talked about playing together. Being in the L.A. market doesn't hurt, nor does being backed by Ballmer. And ultimately, the prospect of leading the Clippers to a title in the first year of the post-Sterling era might be too good to pass up.

    The Clippers already are title contenders without James; with him, they would be the favorites. So if James decides to become a Clipper, how does he get there? The Clippers already have about $71.7 million committed to player salaries next season (assuming Darren Collison, Glen Davis and Danny Granger opt out), so we can safely rule out signing him with cap room. James could sign for the Clippers' midlevel exception, of course, but that seems very unlikely.

    That leaves a sign-and-trade transaction, which coincidentally is how James got from Cleveland to Miami in the first place. But we're playing under a different CBA now, and the sign-and-trade rules have changed since 2010. A lot of the advantages that existed back then don't exist anymore. Under the current rules, a player in a sign-and-trade can receive the same contract as a free agent changing teams, not a free agent who is re-signing with his old team. Teams cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade at all if their resulting salary would be over the "apron" -- $4 million above the luxury-tax line -- which next season will be about $81 million. If the Clippers complete a sign-and-trade for James, they will be hard-capped at the $81 million apron, and unable to exceed it for any reason, for the remainder of the upcoming season.

    One thing that hasn't changed is that Miami has to be a willing participant in the transaction -- a sign-and-trade isn't possible unless all three parties (both teams and the player) agree. Since we can safely assume that the Heat aren't exactly tickled at the idea of giving LeBron James away, it would require James requesting to be sent to the Clippers, and the Heat receiving an adequate return -- adequate enough to justify trading the player of the decade.

    If the Heat don't receive enough compensation to make it worth their while, they can just say "no." James would then be left with three options: go to the Clippers on his own (signing for the midlevel exception), go to another team with sufficient cap room, or stay with the Heat. The Heat would know that if James doesn't have a plausible Plan B, staying in Miami at the maximum salary is probably preferable to playing for the Clippers at the midlevel. Therefore, it would take a hefty return in a sign-and-trade to coax the Heat into cooperating.

    So what would the return be? The Heat's asking price surely would be Blake Griffin, and they'd be unlikely to budge from that position. If the Heat are faced with retooling for the post-Bron era, then Griffin is a great place to start -- and the Heat would be in the position to demand him in return for the favor of sending LeBron to L.A.

    A sign-and-trade featuring Griffin and James (re-signed at the maximum salary) would work as a one-for-one transaction, but the Clippers' team salary would then be about $74 million. And remember, they would then be hard-capped at about $81 million, leaving just $7 million to: sign their first-round draft pick; potentially replace Collison, Davis and Granger; address the team's depth; fill out the remainder of the roster; and survive the upcoming season. It makes sense to create a little more breathing room while also sweetening the pot for the Heat. The Clippers could add Reggie Bullock (the team's first-round pick in 2013) and even their first-round draft pick this year to the trade.

    Would the Heat go for it?

    In this scenario -- where James requests a trade, and especially if he presents the Heat with a viable Plan B -- what other choice would they have? Receiving another all-star in his prime as a consolation is rare in these sorts of transactions -- even if it is a step down from what they'd be losing.

    Would the Clippers go for it?

    Make no mistake, the Clippers love Griffin, and wouldn't give him up for almost anyone -- with James being one of the few exceptions. With Paul and Rivers on the payroll, the Clippers are invested. With Ballmer at the helm, they're going for it. As much as the Clippers love Griffin, a chance at James is too good to pass up. They would immediately vault from outside contenders to the top of the heap.

    So it really comes down to whether James wants it. It has been demonstrated time and again that a superstar player has the ability to force a team's hand. There have been signs for a couple years that the balance of power in the league is shifting. If James makes a change this summer, he can stay in title contention for the foreseeable future. But he might not have reason to be so optimistic if he stays in Miami.

  2. J Sizzle

    J Sizzle Member

    Feb 27, 2012
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    LOL typical ESPN speculation piece just to get clicks...
  3. NotChandlerParsons

    Nov 11, 2012
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    Written by Larry Coon, it's a shame this is what ESPN is using his knowledge of the CBA for.
  4. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
    Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2002
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    just stop.
  5. ferrari77

    ferrari77 Contributing Member

    Jun 15, 2006
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    The "Would Lebron ever leave Miami" section basically ended the whole thing.
    Trash ESPN piece.

    Larry Coon is better than this.
  6. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

    Oct 27, 1999
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    this piece is quite a stretch of the imagination.
  7. Raven

    Raven Member

    Jul 24, 2002
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    Which team in the East is catching up? The Pacers? :rolleyes:
  8. Jontro

    Jontro Member

    Feb 3, 2010
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    The Bron to be a Clippers. This article has made a believer out of me.
  9. D-rock

    D-rock Member

    Jun 29, 2006
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    Maybe it's just me but harden/Asik or Dwight/Parsons is way better than just Blake Griffin.

    If Lebron is eager to move on from Miami then why not to Houston???
  10. SamFisher

    SamFisher Virtuous

    Apr 14, 2003
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    And once he lures him, Ashton Kutcher will pop out and yell "punk'd" and everyone will laugh as the Clippers will have moved to Seattle.
  11. RocketsJumer

    RocketsJumer Member

    Jan 31, 2013
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    I don't see why Lebron would ever want to leave the East. As long as he is in the East, he is practically guaranteed a Finals appearance for the foreseeable future. If he was in the West, it would be hard to pick against him to make it to the finals but it will be, without a doubt, so much more harder.

    No way Lebron leaves for the Clippers. Chris Paul to the Heat is much more believable.
  12. shastarocket

    shastarocket Contributing Member

    Jul 18, 2006
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    ^bingo, he might as well head to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden
  13. slestack11

    slestack11 Member

    May 22, 2013
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    I'm not sure trading Blake Griffin straight up for Lebron is that good of a trade for the Clippers. I mean, Lebron is over 30 now and Griffin could just be getting started at 25. If the Clippers were smart, they would pursue trading CP3 and extras for Lebron. But one of the biggest reasons Lebron would sign with the Clippers is to play with CP3. Since the CBA is so slanted to screw over elite players from making their true market value, Ballmer should offer Lebron bigger opportunities outside of the NBA to get him to sign for MLE. Plus, Lebron has been looking to make a move into entertainment so he better get started soon before he starts his decline in basketball.
  14. Aleron

    Aleron Contributing Member

    Jun 24, 2010
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    Lebron will never come west, he likes not needing to try during the regular season. Unless some sort of gm r****dation happen and you end up with 4 or 5x HoF players (sure if someone lets you make Paul, Durant, Lebron, Love and Dwight), it's simply impossible to be a dynasty team in the west.
    #14 Aleron, Jun 5, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  15. LAC05

    LAC05 Member

    Jun 2, 2014
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    I really don't think this is going to happen. At least not this year. Probably never.
  16. dobro1229

    dobro1229 Contributing Member

    Feb 16, 2010
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    Larry Coon is forever the salary cap savior for fans, but lets be honest.... at the end of the day, he's an LA based reporter for ESPN.

    Actually I believe Coon is a life long Lakers fan too which makes this article even more hilarious that he is getting the Clippers fans (former Lakers fans) all hot & bothered with the idea of Lebron coming to Hollywood.

    Chris Paul IMO wouldn't be the safest bet for Lebron. He's still a player that has had a ton of trouble staying healthy for a full season. Blake and Lebron would be fun to watch for the long haul though no doubt, but the catch is that Blake almost has to go to make a deal for Lebron and open up the cap space. Outside of Blake & CP3, its not like he's taking a major upgrade in talent surrounding him. Its not like the Clippers have that much else in talent.
  17. slestack11

    slestack11 Member

    May 22, 2013
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    I think most would agree that CP3/Blake Griffin is better than DWade/Chris Bosh going forward. So here is the remaining supporting cast (not counting unrestricted FA's that will leave) that Lebron would be choosing from:

    Udonis Haslem
    Norris Cole

    Jamal Crawford
    Deandre Jordan
    JJ Redick
    Matt Barnes
    Big Baby (Restricted FA)
    Danny Granger (Restricted FA)
    Jared Dudley
    Hedo Turkeglu

    I'm not sure why Miami would be a more attractive option, but all Lebron needs to do is sign with Clippers for MLE and he can get more rings. Maybe Ballmer can set him up with a start-up tech company IPO on the side in exchange.
  18. Swishh

    Swishh Member

    Mar 4, 2013
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    Typical BSPN - must be a slow news day.

    If LeBron does leave Miami, it'll only be to Cleveland. And besides, if he wanted to win on the best team possible, he'd have to choose Houston, right? Playing with the best SG/Center in the league - I legitimately think the Rockets would 3 peat with LeBron.
  19. ryano2009

    ryano2009 Member

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Why on earth would he leave the eastern conference and come to the western conference...??

    The guy has been getting to the finals for the past 3 years, has won 2 and possibly winning his 3rd, I seriously don't understand how this guy gets paid to write this ****
  20. crossover

    crossover Contributing Member

    Sep 13, 2001
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